I take my completed manuscript to a copy center and have three copies made, each bound with a black coil and a clear plastic cover. Friends who know and like me volunteer to be my beta readers. They all tell me my story is a fast read and that they couldn’t put it down.
Warmed by their approval, I’m sure all I need now is a copy editor to catch any typos. I ask around for recommendations.
After soliciting a few sample edits it occurs to me that my manuscript needs more: a substantive, or story editor, before a copy editor. I compare costs and qualifications, and choose Joyce Gram.
“Take me to the action right away,” Joyce instructs, “and don’t be afraid to speak to your readers as the adult you are now. Tell them what you want them to know.”
Ah ha! The missing piece of the puzzle. I get it. I’ve been holding back. After all these years away from Mormonism, a part of me is still afraid to say what I really, really think. A part of me is still responding to the messages of “don’t think, don’t feel, and don’t question,” that silenced me as a child. I go back to my laptop, and begin at the beginning – a few times – until Joyce is finally satisfied with what she’s drawn out of me that I didn’t even know was there.